Summary: This text is a doxology that praises the God whose grace makes room for misfits.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:3-14).
If you remember the 1963 claymation movie, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, then you will recall the segment when Santa made a stop at the Island of Misfit Toys. These were toys that had been isolated from the rest of the world because they were of suboptimal quality. They had points of imperfection. They were considered damaged goods, dysfunctional, not good enough for anyone. Not wanted, not worthy of anyone's love, not pretty enough, not refined, not cool, not like all of the others - they were misfits. For example, there was an elephant that had spots, a boxed spring toy named Charlie instead of Jack, a train with square caboose wheels, a boat that could not float and a water gun that squirted jelly.
But despite being stigmatized with the label of 'somebody's mistake', they all experienced deliverance. Santa did not ask them any questions and did not place any demands on them as a prerequisite for deliverance. Santa did not tell the elephant to clean up his spots. He did not tell the boxed spring toy that he needed to find himself. Santa did not tell the train that he needed to smooth out his rough edges. He did not tell the boat to go on a diet. He did not tell the water gun that he did not have the right stuff. No judgments, no conditions, no questions, no condemnation - just deliverance - just as they were. And amazingly, there was room in Santa's sack for every toy and Santa had a home for every toy; somehow there was a place prepared for every misfit. No longer rejected, no longer living as outcasts, no longer homeless, Santa found a place for those deemed out of place. These misfits experienced unconditional grace.
Mind you, I typically do not watch this movie too much any more. But today's text caused me to think about it. This text, Ephesians 1: 3-14 is part of a letter sent to Christians in Asia Minor. The authorship is traditionally attributed to Paul, but there are some scholars who consider this text 'Deutero-Pauline'; they believe that contents and grammatical structure are from a Paul-like person, but not Paul himself. But whether penned by Paul or a Paul-like person, there is a general consensus that the Holy Spirit breathed upon the text.
Let's first examine the substance of this text with our heads. The exaltations to God in verses 6, 12 and 14 suggest that this passage is a doxology. Functionally, it bridges the introduction and body of the entire epistle and sets the tone for the epistle.
If we take a closer look at the details of the text, we see elements of theological points of controversy. We see Calvinistic language concerning predestination. We see language concerning the sovereignty of God. We see language that suggests an early acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity. If we synthesize these theological issues of historic debate, we see that the writer is saying that God should be the object of our praise because we have been the objects of His grace.
Let's define how God's grace is portrayed in this text; there are eight ways:
1) He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings
2) He has chosen us